File-AP Photo/ Rajanish Kakade
SEBI Orders Freezing Sahara Chief's Accounts

Coming down heavily on Saharas in investor refund case involving over Rs 24,000 crore, regulator Sebi today ordered freezing of bank accounts and attachment of all investments and properties of two Sahara firms and their top executives, including group chief Subrata Roy.

The assets being attached include those related to the group's Aambey Valley resort town near Pune, other real estate assets in Delhi, Mumbai and at other places across the country, shares, mutual funds and various other investments.

Sebi's action comes within days of the Supreme Court saying that the market regulator was free to freeze accounts and attach properties if Sahara group firms were not depositing the money with it for refund to investors.

Passing two separate orders against Sahara Housing Investment Corporation Ltd (SHICL) and Sahara India Real Estate Corporation Ltd (SIRECL), Sebi said that the two companies had raised Rs 6,380 crore and Rs 19,400 crore respectively from bondholders and "various illegalities" were committed in raising of these funds.

With regard to Subrata Roy and three other directors, namely Vandana Bhargava, Ravi Shanker Dubey and Ashok Roy Choudhary, Sebi ordered freezing of all bank and demat accounts of these four persons, as also attachment of all movable and immovable properties in their name with immediate effect.

Sahara group was yet to comment on the orders despite repeated attempts.

The Supreme Court on August 31, 2012, had asked Sahara group firms to refund the money with 15 per cent interest and had asked Sebi to facilitate the refund.

However, the group in December 2012, was allowed to pay the money in three instalments, including an immediate payment of Rs 5,120 crore, followed by an instalment of Rs 10,000 crore in the first week of January and remainder by the first week of February 2013. 

In its orders passed today, Sebi said that neither of the two instalments was paid and therefore it is constrained to take necessary action as per the Supreme Court orders.

With regard to the payment of Rs 5,120 crore also, Saharas have claimed that only Rs 2620 crore remained to be refunded to investors and it has already paid Rs 19,400 crore to the bondholders, Sebi said, adding it has been forced to take further actions.

The properties being attached by Sebi include the land owned by Sahara group firm Aamby Valley Ltd, which has set up a resort village near Pune, development rights of land at prime locations in Delhi, Gurgaon, Mumbai and various other places across the country.

Besides, Sebi has also ordered attachment of equity shares held in Aamby Valley Ltd, units of mutual funds, bank and demat accounts and investments in all the branches of all banks. Sebi has asked all the banks to transfer the amounts lying in those accounts to its Sebi-Sahara Refund Account.

Sebi also directed Subrata Roy and three other directors to furnish details of all movable and immovable properties in their name within 21 days, pending which they can not alienate, dispose or encumber any of their assets.

The regulator said it is seeking attachment of all other movable and immovable properties owned and/or held by the two companies SIRECL with immediate effect and asked them not to "alienate, dispose or in any manner encumber the same".

Sebi also directed the two firms to furnish details of any other investments within 21 days and restrained them with immediate effect from operating their bank and demat accounts and from withdrawing of any investments.

The two companies have also been asked to deposit cash, bank balances and fixed deposits in their names to Sebi and have also been barred from transferring any shares held by them.

Sebi said it has informed RBI and Enforcement Directorate as well regarding its actions against Sahara group firms. The assets being attached include investments of SIRECL and SHICL in group companies, special purpose vehicles and partnership firms and the necessary orders for sale of all attached properties would be passed in due course after getting their full particulars, Sebi said.

Emerging story. Watch this space for updates as more details come in
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